Thursday, October 21, 2010

Monsters in the Movies

Back in May, I posted on two spectacular exhibits at The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AKA, the Oscars). Tonight, I went back to The Academy for an awesome presentation with film clips on the evolution of movie monsters at Monsters in the Movies.

For instance, 1981's "American Werewolf in London" with David Naughton - who was there to give the audience some behind-the-scenes tidbits (note that he's still hot!) - was quite different technology-wise from 1941's "The Wolf Man," but both totally freaked out audiences in their days.

Jon Favreau talked about learning the monster ropes in 2005's "Zathura: A Space Adventure" so his later "Iron Man" movies could look fantastic.

It was fun to hear how many monsters are actually puppets or miniatures, and how stop motion transitioned into go motion as technology caught up. On the stop motion side, we got to see the masterful work of Ray Harryhausen in "One Million Years B.C." while hearing from Phil Tippett, the co-developer of go motion, a technique where the object is moved with the camera rolling. The artistry here is making the inanimate object move realistically. Tippett is no schlump; he developed go motion for "The Empire Strikes Back."

Today, most monsters are computer generated, so it will be great to see another program like this in a few years to learn the latest ways technology is making us believe in monsters.

Click here to go to The Academy's Web site.

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